CLAREMONT VILLAGE — Photos displayed next to the coffins holding 13-year-old cousins Erikson Villa and Wellington Gavin — taken the day they drowned — showed an active pair of boys.
In some of the pictures, at their memorial on Friday, the boys were at school, while others caught them walking through the Claremont Village streets with friends in the hours before they headed to Starlight Park and jumped off a dock into the Bronx River.
“They were cool friends, they had me laughing all the time,” Yasique Jordan, 15, said outside of the Bridges Community Church Friday afternoon. “It feels hard because they were two close friends.”
The community has chipped in more than $7,000 to pay for the funeral costs and cousins’ burial in the Dominican Republic, the family’s spokesman Rev. Joel Bauza said.
They are now hoping to raise additional funds so the entire family can attend the funeral.
“We are certain we will raise it,” Bauza said during the memorial. “We believe today will be a good day for the family."
Dozens of family members and friends packed into the church to pay their final respects.
Erikson was dressed in a white Adidas baseball cap and Wellington wore a black Baltimore Orioles cap.
A single rose was taped to each board holding the photos.
On Monday some of their classmates threw flowers into the water where the two young men drowned after a press conference calling for additional security measures in the park.
"Please put the gate up around the river or close the park," Erikson's mother, Eva Villa, said during the press conference. "Look at me. I'm empty. I'm empty."
Additional donations can be made by making a check or money orders out to Erikson’s father, Robinson Villa, and mailed to the church Bridges Community Church at 1010 E. 174th St., Bronx, NY 10460.